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5 years ago

Feel the exasperation of government-run healthcare in this Alabama mom’s open letter to President Obama

The Kinders (Photo: Facebook)
The Kinder family (Photo: Facebook)

Just before Christmas, Karri Kinder, a married mother of two living in Auburn, Ala., penned the below open letter to the Obama Administration.

If you haven’t experienced it for yourself already, feel the exasperation of a mom trying to navigate the ObamaCare bureaucratic nightmare in hopes of securing coverage for her family.

An Open Letter to the Obama Administration and American Citizens:

My family’s journey with securing our new insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started on October 1, 2013. I have decided to write this letter to let the American people know what it has been like for us. We are a family of four, with two little boys’ ages seven years old and three years old. My husband and I have had full time jobs for 6 years and 13 years respectively. We have been with the same two companies for those years. We are a middle class family; we own our three bedroom two bath house, we own two cars, and previously provided our own insurance for the four of us. We have coverage through Individual Blue from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama until 12/31/13. Our premiums have been $380.00 a month, which also included dental coverage for all four of us.

On October, 1, 2013 we received our letters like other Alabamians about our new premiums and plans for 2014 from Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Alabama. When I opened our letter to say I had sticker shock was an understatement. Our premiums for the Blue Saver Silver would now be $753.26. This included the ACA tax but did not include the additional $75.00 we would need to pay in order to keep dental for me and my husband. So we would need to pay total $828.26 to keep health and dental insurance for the four of us. This payment is roughly $64.00 less than what we pay for our mortgage each month. I was outraged that anyone thought we could afford this. Sure we have some savings, but with that price tag we would whittle it down to almost nothing very quickly. I consider savings as a rainy day fund, a start to saving for the kid’s college, our retirement, etc. I never dreamed in a million years we would need to use it to pay our insurance premiums each month – how in the world could this help the economy too?

Throughout the month of October we read everything we could on what our plan would cover, and tried to get the information we needed about the ACA. I was also blown away when I realized that my son’s medical care, he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), would cost us so much more out of pocket than it was currently costing us. My son has to go to his doctor every other month for his care. If we need to see a therapist we do that monthly, so you see on top of the premiums there are other out of pocket cost we have to factor in. He is also on medication that he takes daily. His medicine is a life saver for him and helps him function like a normal seven year old, without it he can’t focus, his grades slip and his mind literally goes back to the mind of a three or four year old. When he was first put on his medicine his reading went up 20 points and he went from writing one to two sentences to paragraphs, all in the course of a week. He is a straight A student and very bright, but without the proper medical care that could slip away from him. Under our new plan for 2014 we would need to pay a $55.00 co-pay, and then it would be covered at 80 percent once we reached his deductible, which would be $2,000 individual $4,000 family. Out of pocket max numbers are $6,350 individual and $12,700 family. All of this is enough to make anyone’s head spin. We were then forced to look at other options as none of this was affordable for our family.

I started to dig deeper into healthcare.gov. I was hearing all the horror stories through the news about the subpar website. I was reading right off their healthcare.gov Facebook page about other people’s terrible experiences trying to get coverage. Then the government announces that they are going to be working on the site and making it a better experience as well as making it more secure. They had already had three years to make this happen but they said would need the month of November to get it running right. So I waited patiently for them to get the site running so I could see if we would qualify for the subsidy and continue our health insurance through that route.

December 6, 2013 I went to healthcare.gov and started our application. The process took me over two hours to complete. Once it was completed it came back with our results. The results were that my husband and I qualified. That my three year old qualified for All Kids and that my seven year old did not qualify for anything through the exchange (ACA). I was so confused, how could a seven year old not qualify for a subsidy? I was also confused on why they wanted me to enroll one of my children in All Kids? So, I called the number they provided to speak to a representative. I was on hold for 20 minutes when a woman answered and offered to help me with the results. She told me that it is coming back that my seven year old son did not qualify and the only thing I could do was to file an appeal. I asked her a few more questions about how this could have happened, and I was told “she does not know and that all I can do is file an appeal”. She was reading her responses to me right off of a chart that I am sure they are given. So, I ended my conversation with her and proceeded to try to wrap my head around what was happening.

I decided to call back, this time I waited 15 minutes and spoke to a very nice gentleman who seemed to have an understanding for how the system was working. He looked up the results and said “this can’t be right, let’s start over and do an application over the phone”. So again I went through the application process. The results came back the exact same, we all qualified for something except my seven year old son. The gentleman could not understand how this could be happening and assured me it had to be a “glitch” in the system. He placed me on hold so he could speak with his supervisor on how to fix this error. I waited several minutes and when he came back he said “there was nothing more they could do tonight”. He said “we are sending your application to two different departments and that one of the departments would get back to me through a phone call with a fix to this problem”. He also told me “it could take 2-5 days but that I would receive a phone call when they had closed my case”.

So I waited until Tuesday December 10, 2013, which was day four and called them back. I was then told it would be 2-5 business days and if I had not heard from them at that time to call back. So that is what I did, I waited till 9:00 pm on that Friday December 13, 2013 with no phone call. I called Sunday December 15th, 2013 and spoke with my 3rd supervisor who told me “they were very sorry that I had not received a phone call and they were messaging the two departments to give me a call the following day”. He also said to go ahead and file with All Kids in my state because even though they send that information to them, they have no idea when they will receive it. So Monday I went and applied for All Kids for my children, it was a similar application to the healthcare.gov site. I called them to verify that they received my application and was told they cannot access it till sometime in January. They said once they could access it that they would be in touch and if the kids qualified the coverage would retro act to January 1, 2014. So that was a little bit of good news.

So here we are December 22, 2013, the day before the December 23rd deadline to sign up through the Health Insurance Marketplace’s Exchange. I decide I will call one last time to see what they can tell me about coverage, since I never received a phone call after my last conversation with a supervisor. I waited on hold for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I asked to speak with a supervisor and I was transferred. The supervisor pulled my file and was talking to me when she must have accidentally pressed a button and we got disconnected. I thought for sure she would call me back. That is one of the first things they ask for is your phone number. I did not receive a call back, so I call back and have to be placed on hold again to speak to someone. I waited another hour and a half before I get connected with a supervisor. She pulls up my file and tells me “there is nothing they can do and I have to wait the 90 days they have to contact me through the appeals process”. The supervisor tells me “that this whole time I have been told wrong by numerous people and that I should have been called back but that the two departments could do nothing for me”. I just have to wait the 90 days. I asked her, “so yet again an error, due to no fault of my own, has occurred all these times I have been calling and speaking with people and no one can really do anything”? She said “yes that is correct, I am sorry you have been told something different but that is all I can tell you”.

I have never been treated so poorly by any insurance company in my whole life. I have never experienced such terrible customer service in all my years on this earth. I can’t imagine how long a company would last in this country if they followed the same protocol as the ACA/Health Insurance Marketplace does. Most companies can fix a glitch in their systems pretty easily, or can connect you to someone who can. Not the ACA/ Health Insurance Marketplace, you spend all that time on hold to just be told, so sorry but you have to wait for someone to get back to you in a 90 day time span.

What is the most sickening thing to me is that we have been forced into the Health Insurance Marketplace’s Exchange. We wanted to continue our coverage through BSBC and pay as we always had been. But, we found out that option would not be affordable under the new Act, which is how we were forced into the Exchange. Furthermore, not only were we forced into the Exchange, but then forced again to submit an application to ALL Kids for our children. I just don’t understand how we go from being hard working middle class family who provides everything for our family to where we are today. I feel like everything that my husband and I have worked hard for is for nothing. I pray each night that we will get something resolved with our “glitch” in the system so our children will have health insurance coverage in January and by the time I have to purchase my son’s $400 a month ADHD medicine.

I really don’t know how our government can allow this to be taking place. What if something happens and one of my boys breaks an arm, or God forbid something worse? They don’t have insurance, so I guess we will then be paying the hospital monthly if that happens. We are almost completely debt free currently and now all I see is very large medical bills in our future until the government can fix the issues with the ACA/Exchange. I would really like them to rename the Affordable Care Act, because from where I am sitting it is anything but affordable or caring for my family.

Sincerely,
Karri Kinder


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

25 mins ago

Del Marsh on Trump declaration: ‘It is an emergency — It is about protecting this country’

Alabama Senate leader Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voiced his support for President Donald Trump’s latest action on border security while blaming Democrats for their inability to fix the long-standing issue.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Marsh said he supports Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency along the Mexican border.

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Marsh explained that the urgency of the threat made it necessary.

“It is an emergency,” Marsh stated. “It is about protecting this country. That’s where the threat is. The threat is the southern border. All our borders should be secure. But the threat right now is the southern border. No one can deny that.”

When asked where border security should rank among the country’s priorities, Marsh said border security should be number one.

And he expressed frustration at how policy-makers have approached the issue.

“I cannot for the life of me understand how people in Congress can put people who are not citizens of this country above our citizens’ welfare, and that’s what I see happening,” he remarked.

He cited a single reason why, in his mind, the issue of border security has gone on for so long without resolution.

“Politics,” Marsh declared.

Specifically, he believes Democrats view illegal immigration as providing a pool of potential new voters and that has threatened national security.

“They have put that above the safety of the citizens of this country,” he said. “Democrats are basically saying, ‘Don’t worry about a process. Come on! We’re your buddies!’”

Marsh also pointed out the fact that he has already filed a bill in the Alabama legislature to allow Alabamians to help build the wall.

The legislation would provide taxpayers the option of checking a box on their tax returns should they want to donate to We Build the Wall, Inc.

Marsh has already donated to the fund himself.

“It’s about sending a message to this president, President Trump, that we support him and by sending these dollars to build the wall, showing our support for him,” he explained. “I believe it and I think the people of Alabama believe that security is the most important thing, the most important issue at this point in time. We want to support the wall, and we want to see the wall built.”

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News.

32 mins ago

Alabama Supreme Court reinstates Alabama Memorial Preservation Act

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced Friday that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the state’s motion to stay a recent Jefferson County Circuit Court judgment that declared the “[erroneous]” Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017 to be unconstitutional.

This means the law, which prohibits the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property, will still be in effect while the state appeals the decision. Marshall requested the stay three weeks ago.

“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has granted the State’s motion to stay the Circuit Court’s ruling,” the attorney general said in a statement. “We think that U.S. Supreme Court precedent clearly demonstrates that the Circuit Court erred in striking down the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act. Thus, we asked the Alabama Supreme Court to preserve the status quo regarding the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park until the Court rules on our appeal.”

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It was reported that the City of Birmingham was considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy after the law was struck down. The Sailors Monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.

“The Supreme Court’s stay allows the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act to remain in effect until the Supreme Court resolves this appeal over the Act’s constitutionality. We continue to hold that the Circuit Court erred when it ruled that the U.S. Constitution grants cities free speech rights that they can enforce against the State,” Marshall added. “For more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has held just the opposite, recognizing that ‘a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator.’ We look forward to presenting these arguments to the Alabama Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court’s order Friday also stayed the accrual of any financial penalties under the law.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

David Cole departs Alabama Farmers Federation for BCA

The Business Council of Alabama (BCA) is adding another star to its governmental affairs team.

Shortly after breaking BCA’s hiring of Molly Cagle from Manufacture Alabama, sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News that Alabama Farmers Federation Director of State Affairs David Cole is coming on board at the same time.

Cole, like Cagle, is joining BCA’s governmental affairs staff effective February 28, just in time for the March 5 start of the state legislative session. Most recently, Cole spearheaded the federation’s lobbying efforts in the Alabama House of Representatives.

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Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that federation Executive Director Paul Pinyan sent out an email announcing Cole’s departure and thanking him for his commitment to Alabama agriculture — the state’s biggest industry. Pinyan also outlined how the staff would be moved around in response to Cole leaving.

Director of External Affairs Matthew Durdin – and his staff members, Director of Agricultural Legislation Preston Roberts and administrative assistant Jessica Mims – will now be involved in some state governmental affairs work. Former Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, who has been working as a political consultant for the federation, will now add governmental affairs work on contract.

An official announcement with details of the federation’s staff changes is expected to be released in the coming week.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt announced the two major additions in an internal email sent out to the business council’s leadership Friday evening. Britt took the reigns of BCA January 2. Cagle and Cole are her first hires.

The email detailed that Cole is being named senior vice president of governmental affairs and Cagle vice president of governmental affairs.

“These two additions to our team position the BCA to serve our members and advocate effectively on behalf of the business community,” Britt wrote.

Mark Colson, who most recently filled in as BCA’s interim president after serving as chief of staff and senior vice president for governmental affairs, will continue to serve the organization in his new role as senior advisor through the transition period.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Molly Cagle joining BCA from Manufacture Alabama

One of Alabama’s rising stars in the governmental affairs world is on the move.

Sources confirmed to Yellowhammer News Friday that Manufacture Alabama (MA) Director of External Affairs Molly Cagle has accepted a governmental affairs position with the Business Council of Alabama (BCA). While an exact title has yet to be released, Cagle is expected to bolster BCA’s legislative affairs team.

The hire marks the first in BCA President and CEO Katie Boyd Britt’s tenure. She was hired by the organization’s executive committee in December and took office January 2.

Cagle’s last day at MA is February 20, according to an email from her to the association’s membership obtained by Yellowhammer News.

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“My time at Manufacture Alabama over the last four and a half years has been incredibly rewarding. The friendships, lessons, and advice are things that I cherish and will take with me throughout my career,” she wrote.

Cagle comes to BCA with an impressive track record in legislative work, including past service as the Senate Liaison for Alabama Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh. She received her bachelor’s in Political Science, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism, from Troy University.

Named to Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “Power and Influence: Who’s Next?” list for 2018, Cagle will be a major addition to BCA as the organization refocuses on its pro-jobs mission of “making a sweet home for business” in Alabama.

Cagle’s email noted, “As I prepare to take on my new role, I want to assure everyone that the staff at Manufacture Alabama has taken the steps to make my departure as seamless as possible. A special thank you to George Clark for his guidance and support not only over the last several years but also throughout this process.”

The state legislative session begins March 5.

As of Friday at 2:30 p.m., BCA had taken down its online staff directory. An official announcement of the hire is expected in the coming days.

Update, 6:15 p.m.:

Cagle is being named BCA’s vice president of governmental affairs.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

It is time for the Alabama legislature to end the state-mandated subsidy to print media outlets

Who won the 2018 general election in Alabama?

You might think with all the talk of $900 prison spending bills, gas taxes, Medicaid expansion and the lottery that Democrats won in a massive landslide and were preparing to implement their agenda. But that is not what happened — Republicans actually picked up seats.

The state of Alabama, with a Republican super-majority, is preparing to spend big and grow government.

As they do this, maybe they can toss the citizens of Alabama a bone and make the government a little more efficient by saving state agencies, counties, cities and school boards a substantial amount of money every year.

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Current Alabama law requires government entities in Alabama to advertise legal notices, legislation, constitutional amendments, voter rolls and other public matters in the local print media outlets.

This is not chump change:

  • The state of Alabama spends up to $800,000 each year.
  • The city of Huntsville spends up to $115,000 each year.
  • Madison County spends up to $153,000 each year.

If we were to add up all the costs to local governments, we would find that these costs are in the multiple millions of dollars range.

In a state that has a $6+ billion dollar education budget, this may seem like something that is minuscule and irrelevant, but that is not the case when adding all the entities required by law to hand government money over to private companies to print a product that very few use and could easily be uploaded to an official state/county/city website and be more accessible to your average Alabamians.

The only counter-argument, which will be made by those working in or for the print media industry and no one else, is that there are communities in Alabama that don’t have high-speed Internet and can’t access these websites.

This is a canard that only allows legislators to do nothing and not face the wrath of people who “buy ink by the barrel.”

Keeping these laws on the books only acts to subsidize the print media. It does not benefit your average Alabamian one bit.

This print media subsidy should be ended immediately. Surely there are other things these government entities can spend this money on.

@TheDaleJackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN